Romanian gang rape accused is refused bail

editorial image
0
Have your say

DNA from an alleged gang rape victim is a million times more likely than not to include a contribution from a Romanian man, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors said the statistics used to link Florin Cirpaci to the suspected sex attack in Portadown were based on analysis carried out by a leading UK forensic service.

But a judge was told that the reliability of method is being disputed by a scientist who previously challenged DNA evidence at an Omagh bombing trial.

The conflicting expert opinion emerged as Mr Cirpaci (33)was refused bail amid fears he might flee.

He is one of three Romanian nationals charged with carrying out a rape last August. The alleged victim, aged 22, had been socialising at a bar in the centre of Portadown.

She told police that after drinking some alcohol her next memory was of waking up in an unknown house as two men raped her.

According to her account she tried to leave but was pushed back down onto a bed.

After the men had finished she was given her handbag, telephone, shoes and underwear, it was claimed at a previous court hearing.

Prosecution counsel said the woman ran outside but could only establish that she was in a housing estate.

The woman was then said to have accepted a lift from the area.

The police later obtained CCTV footage which showed her being helped from the bar and led to a BMW car which four Romanian nationals also got into.

One of them was described as performing look-out duties as the woman was put in the vehicle.

Mr Cirpaci, a diesel mechanic from North Street in Portadown was detained during a second arrest operation last September.

He denies any involvement in the alleged rape.

But the prosecution claim his DNA could not be disc ounted from a ‘complex profile’ obtained from the woman.

Specialist testing in the case was carried out at the Cellmark Forensic Services facilities in England.

The court was told yesterday that a statistical software analysis indicates that Mr Cirpaci is 1.1 million times more likely than not to have contributed to the sample.

However defence expert Professor Allan Jamieson was said to be sceptical of the findings.

The Glasgow-based scientist previously contested the DNA evidence at the trial of Sean Hoey, who was ultimately acquitted of murdering 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, in the 1998 Omagh bombing.

According to his assessment the methods used in the Cirpaci case could be misleading and unreliable because they involve measuring the sample without proper context, the court heard.

Ruling yesterday on the protracted bail application, Mr Justice Weatherup criticised the length of time taken by the prosecution to secure its forensic results.

“This isn’t just on one occasion, this is many occasions over months in order to move this along,” he said.

Refusing bail, however, the judge held: “It seems to me the risk of flight is a serious one in this case.”